Orthodox: A few questions...

Glory to Jesus Christ my Orthodox brothers and sisters!

I have been studying deeply into Orthodoxy for the past couple of months. At my home parish in VA (Maronite) my pastor is very Eastern, yet cannot be truly Eastern in the truest sense of the term because he is bound by Latin doctrines (Immaculate Conception and Papal Infallibility), which are bound on all the faithful regardless of their Ritual Tradition (Byzantine, Coptic, Antiochian, etc.). Witnessing this made me pause and re-evaluate what is going on in the Catholic Church.

I know that Eastern Catholics have been treated pretty harshly throughout the centuries, Latinized and forced to take on Latin doctrines that are completely absent from their Traditions (both small t and big T). This force of conformity makes me wonder if there is a real unity of faith in the Catholic Church. My pastor for his M.A. in Theology talked about how the Syriac Tradition does not believe in the Immaculate Conception. (In fact, he did it in front of the Oblates of Mary of the Immaculate Conception! :eek: They were so impressed that they wrote his bishop saying that he should send him to Rome to complete a doctorate ) He received the degree, but it troubles me that Eastern Catholics cannot express their traditional beliefs because of this “binding” on all Catholics.

Anyway, I am done with the rant for the most part. On to the questions:

*]Why are the Orthodox set up in Nationalistic Churches? What happened to the ancient original model of only 4 Patriarchates in the Communion?
*]How can the Orthodox claim to have unbroken succession in regards to the Patriarchates of Antioch and Alexandria? The original holders to them are the Syriac and Coptic Orthodox Churches, respectively.
*]How far away is reunion between the Oriental Orthodox and Byzantine Orthodox?
*]Why do the Orthodox allow for overlapping jurisdictions? I had thought that the original model was only one Bishop for a certain area.
*]What is the definitive role for the Patriarch of Constantinople? Is he a “primus inter pares” figure or does he do more than that?
*]Why are some jurisdictions allowed to not recognize another? For example, Estonia is in communion with Constantinople and Russia is in Communion with Constantinople, but Russia and Estonia are not in communion.

This is all I have for right now. Please understand, these are legitimate questions. I am not trying to beguile or set up “straw men” at all. I am being completely sincere in asking these questions as I am prayerfully studying Orthodoxy in hopes that I can understand it better and perhaps help out with reunion at the “grassroots” level.

Alloho minokhoun,

I don’t mean to detract from this thread but I’ve been interested in knowing why the East has a difficulty with the Immaculate Conception. According to this Eastern Catholic’s article, the “difficulty” is superficial and in fact reconcilable: east2west.org/doctrine.htm#Sin

You are obviously young - so many questions WHY?? These take long time to answer. someone who might help you is Priest Yakov Krotov who is a non-canonical Russian priest who at one time was Russian Greko-Catolic. He has many articles on his huge sait about Orthodoxy, Catolicism and such. Here you will find what you need I believe. . Also he is also a person like you in doing down to the roots for union of Christ Churches.

His sait in English is


The DOGMAS of the Immaculate Conception and Papal Infallibility are “foreign” to the Eastern Orthodox tradition because they are schismatic and heretical…I’m sorry you wish to be more Eastern than Catholic. We don’t have different dogmas for different rites–you bet they are all bound to them!

Out of curiosity, are you a cradle Eastern Catholic or are you a cradle Catholic at all? You strike me as one of those people who convert to Catholicism because it seems “cool” and mysterious, then become fascinated with Eastern Orthodoxy because it seems even more exotic than Roman Catholicism, similar to how WASPy American teenagers embrace Wicca or when Hollywood celebs practice Kabbalah. It’s interesting that you consider your pastor “not really Eastern” because he is bound by “Latin” traditions; the Maronites have never been out of communion with the Roman Catholic Church, so the Immaculate Conception and Papal Infallibility shouldn’t be a stumbling block for them. As far as I know, they do not have a “counter-part” in Eastern Orthodoxy like the Melkites, Byzantines, Ruthenians, etc. do, so I’m puzzled why you associate Eastern/Maronite Catholicism with Eastern Orthodoxy–“Eastern Catholic” is a broad term that includes many diverse rites and churches, not just the Byzantine Uniates.

That’s Anthony Dragani. He has written a great deal and I like much of it, in fact he wrote some very spirited defenses of the Eastern Catholic church traditions against the encroachments of the Latin tradition (such as the optional clerical celibacy tradition as opposed to mandatory clerical celibacy), and I laud him for that.

He is not the most reliable source for Orthodox theology (I note that he does not claim to represent Orthodox theology). He is not reconciling Eastern theology with the Latin, he is reconciling himself with Latin theology.

He does not speak for Orthodox, ever, and he does not speak for all Byzantine Catholics (although I would say that some might like to agree with him). It would take some time to address his articles, and I cannot do so at this moment. Perhaps later.

Boy, you are not going to win any awards with this post. :rolleyes:

BTW, what heresies does the East teach?

"I’m sorry you wish to be more Eastern than Catholic"
And why do you see a contradiction between being eastern and being Catholic?


I’m not running for a popularity contest, Hesychios. :rolleyes: The Schismatic Eastern churches deny certain revealed truths (dogmas)–notably the Immaculate Conception and Papal Infallibility. Many of them also deny that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son, teach that “epiclesis” confects the Real Presence rather than the words of institution (“This is My Body, This is the chalice of my blood, etc.”), and various other heresies–and these are only speaking of the Eastern/Greek “Orthodox” Churches. Many other schismatic churches of the East deny that Christ is a single person with two natures and that Mary is the Mother of God and other Christological heresies.

I see no contradiction between being Eastern and Catholic–but some other people do, apparently. The Immaculate Conception, Papal Infallibility, Purgatory, the Procession of the Holy Spirit from Father & Son, etc. are not “Latin” doctrines that the East is free to reject–they are Catholic doctrines that much be universally accepted by Latin-rite Catholics and Eastern Catholics alike. Hesychios, why do many Eastern Catholics feel that it is more important to believe exactly as the Eastern Orthodox believe rather than believing as the Catholic Church believes?

Hello Psalter, Peace be with you,
By your name I gather you say the Hours, no?

These are not revealed Truths, they are later introductions.

The Age of Revelation closed with the Apostles (your own church teaches that). Why do Latin Catholics adhere to doctrines which are not Apostolic?

May I ask…are you asserting a dual Procession of the Holy Spirit?

If so, why?

Are you not aware that the Papacy has reversed itself on this point?

Ever since an agreement with the Church of the East over the Liturgy of Addai and Mari, the Words of Institution need not even be expressed succinctly for the Holy Eucharist to be confected. In fact, the Institution narrative is splattered all over the Anaphora, there is no one point where one could say “this is it, ring the bells!”.

Which is (in a way) the position of the Orthodox church. No Scholastic Era definition of precisely *when *the Holy Spirit comes but a knowledge that He does indeed come, and no reason to speculate over it. By the end of the Epiclesis it is certain.

This little snippet from Wiki explains it very nicely…

The Epiklesis was a great dispute between Orthodox Church and other churches that needed to know how the change takes place and at what moment does it take place.

The Orthodox Church has always held the view that it is a mysterious reality, and that it is not within the power of our minds to apprehend it. It comes by the way of prayers. Not a moment of consecration. They look upon the entire Eucharistic Prayer as forming a single and indivisible whole, so that the three main sections of the prayer, Thanksgiving, Anamnesis, and Epiclesis, all form an integral part of the one act of consecration.

I think it would be helpful if you would name them, since I do not see any agreement on the ones you have already named. :shrug:

That is all I am interested in.

Theologions today are of the opinion that the two parties [diaphysites like your church and mine, and the Miaphysites] are not so far apart after all, and that the schism was all something of a mistake. I don’t know what to make of that myself, but Miaphysites are not any part of the Eastern Orthodox church any more than Roman Catholicism is. Although I will say they do teach fewer errors than the Latin church does.

You would have to make some citations on this one, I don’t know of any Apostolic church that denies Mary is the Mother of God.

Some prefer to say she is the Mother of Christ, but they do believe Jesus Christ is God, and they do believe in the Holy Trinity.

Why? :smiley:

These aforementioned are not received teachings, otherwise we would have known about them long ago.

BTW, I would like your opinion, should the church make adoption of these doctrines (Immaculate Conception, Papal Infallibility, Purgatory) a condition for reconciliation between Orthodox and Roman Catholics?

Perhaps because they desire Truth in all things.

I have many similar questions, since there are large communities of Orthodox in my home region (primarily Ethiopian and Eritrean Oriental Orthodox, and Slavs). I guess I’m glad I didn’t ask them here, given the rather acerbic tone that has developed. :frowning:

Can anyone actually answer the questions of the OP, please?

Can I ask a dumb question?
We are assuming these questions by the OP are the ONLY questions to consider in this matter. I have already concluded the OP has made his mind up on matters based on his/her very limited questions here.
I could be wrong, but it seems futile to support or not support any ideas the OP has at this point, without any explaination as to why these are the only questions (when there are so many) on this issue.:shrug:

Shlom lokh,

I hope I did not give off the impression that “my mind is made up.” These were the only questions that came to me at the time of my writing the post. I have many, many more. I did not wish to overwhelm our Orthodox brothers and sisters all at once, although I may have done that (unintentionally).

I will try to address Psalter’s misinformed views and claims later on. Right now I’m working on my Latin homework. :thumbsup:

Alloho minokhoun,

Dear friend Psalter

How very strange that you think that Orthodoxy is exotic and esoteric like pagan and panfeism religions. Orthodoxy is Christian religion where people devotely going to receive Communication, confess sin, marry, have children which Baptize and annoint, and grow up to become maybe priest or monk. Such things as you mention Immaculate Concept and Infallable Bishop of Rome are not believed by your own ancestors before 1st Vatican council of 1870. What about Catolics previously who wrote against such dogmatisms - are they to be ridiculed for preserving ancient faith without such embellishings?

Also it is apparently - but you should know - a very bad word in English to call Uniate - so must not use this term. Others may be able to tell you why this is such a bad expression - it has a very bad English meaning.

I find it odd that you are unaware that Eastern Catholics dislike the term, and consider it insulting. As such I believe it is banned on this forum.

I furthermore consider it extremely ironic that you need to be instructed in this by two Orthodox Christians.

In any case, your tendency to bandy about these 19th century cold war terms like “heretic” “schismatic” and “uniate” (quoting you now, it’s not my idea), makes you seem like a bitter and spiteful old Latin crank.

It would suggest you put down the gun and try to be more understanding and accepting of your Eastern brothers and sisters. The higher purpose of this forum is dialog. We do not have to agree with one another, but we should make an attempt to respectfully understand one another. That was the purpose of the original post here, I believe.

To quote your own patriarch of blessed memory, John Paul II of Rome, speaking to a gathering Of Orthodox and Catholics:
**“We [Patriarch Bartholomew and His Holiness the Patriarch of Rome] expressed our shared conviction that reflection, prayer, dialogue, reciprocal forgiveness and mutual fraternal love will bring us closer to the Lord, and will help us better to understand his will for the Church and for humanity.” **

I’m not trying to sound like a “spiteful old Latin crank”; by the way, “heretic” and “schismatic” are terms that predate the 19th century by 1,800+ years and are just as valid today as they were centuries ago. As for Pope John Paul II, I actually think he was one of the worst popes ever and ecumenism is heretical. The “dialogue” between John Paul II and the Patriarch of Istanbul, Bartholomew, is problematic, if not heretical, because it implies that “the Church” is split between the Catholic West and Orthodox East; the truth is that there is still only one Church, the Catholic Church; those in schism simply cease to belong to her. There are many Eastern Orthodox who oppose any sort of ecumenism–quite vocally–and, while they are seriously misguided in that they belong to a schismatic sect, they at least respect truth enough to see that it cannot be discarded for the sake of unity.

It is the original ecclesiology of the church. The church has always been composed of local synods.

This is why early in the church history you will find many local church councils: in North Africa, Gaul, Syria etc. The Maronite church originated in just the same way, as a local synod which (unfortunately) lost it’s connection with the Patriarchate of Antioch. So, assuming the See to be vacant they gathered their bishops and elected one of their own.

The Catholic church has a reflection of this older ecclesiology in it’s national bishops conferences. It is why each nation has a “primate”. The primate of the United States has always been the Archbishop of Baltimore, and earlier he automatically would have hosted and chaired gatherings of the synod (see: the Baltimore Plenary Councils). After the church’s epic struggle with Gallicanism the local synods faded away. Pope Benedict XV decided to resurrect the idea in a milder form, and you have the national bishops conferences: USCCB, the CCCB and the CBCEW being three modern examples. You will notice that these days the chairman of the bishops conference is elected, the Archbishop of Baltimore is not automatically the chairman any more (although he could be if he were elected), his role as Primate has become symbolic.

An excellent question.

When the larger portions of those churches withdrew from communion by rejecting Chalcedon, they were considered out of the church. A minority of the populations of those countries did subscribe to Chalcedon and they need care. So the Patriarchates continued. The office is the same.

It is necessary to understand the Orthodox position on orders outside of the church: once a bishop has left communion or is thought to teach error he is not any longer relevant to the community, they must continue without him. There is no judgment like ‘he’s damned to hell’ or anything like that. Orthodox just don’t know. The church is not a business, it is a community in Christ that has to deal with the reality of their situation.

Most Orthodox I know, and I include myself in this, have no hostility toward Copts or Syriac Orthodox. And they seem to be even more open toward us! At my parish we are frequently getting visits from members of these churches, and sometimes they request our priest baptize their children (he will not, if he can refer them to a priest of their own church).The very old conflicts between us were very largely political, it was no accident that the Greek speakers in those countries generally supported Chalcedon, and the non-Greek speakers generally opposed Chalcedon.

I don’t know if this answer is sufficient. You will note that the Papal communion has reestablished the hierarchy in England, knowing full well that the C of E hierarchy is much older and can claim some kind of seniority. But really it doesn’t matter, the C of E is out of communion and the Papacy has people there who need bishops and priests. So there you have it, once a line of bishops has left the communion it doesn’t matter all that much how old they claim their church is. :shrug:

I don’t really know.

That’s true. The situation in North America is uncanonical. It is mostly a result of the Bolshevik revolution. When the Communists took over Russia the church seemed compromised. The Russian church split in two in North America and another result was the Orthodox churches in other parts of Europe and the Middle east sent bishops to take care of immigrant communities from their own regions, since the Russian Metropolia was divided. The OCA still has smaller national synods within it for Albanians, Bulgarians and Romanians which serves to remind us that the once great Russian Metropolia had responsibility for all these groups and more.

The situation got even worse after the Communists overran other parts of Europe, suddenly the Serbians were splitting into two groups as well, I believe the Romanians did too. Now those national schisms are healed (the Romanians, Serbians and Russians have all reconciled with their alternate halves). The various Orthodox bodies are in close touch with one another through SCOBA, which may eventually serve as a prototype for future union efforts.

The way it has to be done is this: each mother church must release it’s mission dioceses to be autonomous, then they will be able to voluntarily merge or reorganize.

One of the biggest obstacles to sorting this mess out is the resistance of the Ecumenical Patriachate. Patriarch Batholomew controls the Greek Orthodox, Ukrainian Orthodox and the Ruthenian Orthodox in North America and does not want to give this control up. For that reason he is not really as popular in America among Orthodox as he could be. As you know, the church in Turkey is in dire straits, and the EP uses the North American churches for financial support. They don’t want to mess up such a good thing.

The Catholic church in North America also has overlapping jurisdictions. This is also not in agreement with the ancient canons but this is how the various groups are cared for as a practical matter. *

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He is called upon when he is needed.

That last big thing he did (that I am aware of) was chair a meeting over the deposition of the Patriarch of Jerusalem. The Synod itself deposed him and he refused to go. So the synod appealed to the EP, and after not having any success privately resolving the issue he held a meeting or two with the other patriarchs and they all agreed they would not recognize the former patriarch of Jerusalem, and he was forced out.

The state of Israel was furious at this and refused at first to recognize the newly elected patriarch, I don’t know if they have yet. This was about two or three years ago I believe.

I am not an expert on this point. I know that there is a dispute within Estonia itself over this.

The Estonians (at least the Orthodox ones) were evangelized from Russia and the Russian church considers itself their mother church. Properly it would be the Russian church which would set up the Estonian church as an autocephalic body, not the EP.

The situation was complicated by the fact that during the Soviet era many Russian nationals settled into the nation. They don’t really want to have a separate synod. The Estonian nationals wanted a synod of their own and worked with the EP for recognition. The EP was happy to agree, probably because they can use the money.

I can see the point of view of both groups, and I don’t have any opinion about who is more correct.

One thing is important to understand, although these two groups are not working together at the moment they recognize each other as Orthodox. No one is claiming that the other is not “in the church” or that their salvation is in some sort of jeopardy. This is basically a housekeeping matter, and the local Orthodox can actually attend either Estonian church as they see fit without ‘sinning’.

I can see that :slight_smile: .

Pax et Bonum

You call the east heretics/schismatics but the thing is that you sound like you are a schismatic/heritic yourself. You hold that P. John Paul II was a heretic and you consider yourself Catholic?

I think that John Paul II, as a private individual, held heretical views–this is quite different from saying he is a formal heretic. Of course, because of the charism of infallibility, no Pope could ever teach heresy as a dogma. How do you see me as un-Catholic for thinking this? “In truth, many of the Roman Pontiffs were heretics.” (Pope Adrian VI, 1523)

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